Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Cosmology

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Hast thou not Turned thy vision to one who disputed with Abraham About his Lord, because Allah had granted him power? Abraham said: "My Lord is He Who Giveth life and death." He said: "I give life and death". Said Abraham: "But it is Allah that causeth the sun to rise from the east: Do thou then cause him to rise from the West." Thus was he confounded who (in arrogance) rejected faith. Nor doth Allah Give guidance to a people unjust.
When he saw the moon rising in splendour, he said: "This is my Lord." But when the moon set, He said: "unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray."
When he saw the sun rising in splendour, he said: "This is my Lord; this is the greatest (of all)." But when the sun set, he said: "O my people! I am indeed free from your (guilt) of giving partners to Allah.
He it is that cleaveth the day-break (from the dark): He makes the night for rest and tranquillity, and the sun and moon for the reckoning (of time): Such is the judgment and ordering of (Him), the Exalted in Power, the Omniscient.
Allah is He Who raised the heavens without any pillars that ye can see; is firmly established on the throne (of authority); He has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law)! Each one runs (its course) for a term appointed. He doth regulate all affairs, explaining the signs in detail, that ye may believe with certainty in the meeting with your Lord.
And He hath made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the day hath he (also) made subject to you.
He has made subject to you the Night and the Day; the sun and the moon; and the stars are in subjection by His Command: verily in this are Signs for men who are wise.
Establish regular prayers - at the sun's decline till the darkness of the night, and the morning prayer and reading: for the prayer and reading in the morning carry their testimony.
It is He Who made the sun to be a shining glory and the moon to be a light (of beauty), and measured out stages for her; that ye might know the number of years and the count (of time). Nowise did Allah create this but in truth and righteousness. (Thus) doth He explain His Signs in detail, for those who understand.
Moses said: "Your tryst is the Day of the Festival, and let the people be assembled when the sun is well up."
Therefore be patient with what they say, and celebrate (constantly) the praises of thy Lord, before the rising of the sun, and before its setting; yea, celebrate them for part of the hours of the night, and at the sides of the day: that thou mayest have (spiritual) joy.
It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.
If there were therein gods beside Allah, then verily both (the heavens and the earth) had been disordered. Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, from all that they ascribe (unto Him).
Seest thou not that Allah merges Night into Day and he merges Day into Night; that He has subjected the sun, and the moon (to his Law), each running its course for a term appointed; and that Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do?
He merges Night into Day, and he merges Day into Night, and he has subjected the sun and the moon (to his Law): each one runs its course for a term appointed. Such is Allah your Lord: to Him belongs all Dominion. And those whom ye invoke besides Him have not the least power.
Glory to Allah, Who created in pairs all things that the earth produces, as well as their own (human) kind and (other) things of which they have no knowledge.
And a Sign for them is the Night: We withdraw therefrom the Day, and behold they are plunged in darkness;
And the sun runs his course for a period determined for him: that is the decree of (Him), the Exalted in Might, the All-Knowing.
And the Moon,- We have measured for her mansions (to traverse) till she returns like the old (and withered) lower part of a date-stalk.
Qur'an 36:36-39
He created the heavens and the earth in true (proportions): He makes the Night overlap the Day, and the Day overlap the Night: He has subjected the sun and the moon (to His law): Each one follows a course for a time appointed. Is not He the Exalted in Power - He Who forgives again and again?
Among His Signs are the Night and the Day, and the Sun and the Moon. Do not prostrate to the sun and the moon, but prostrate to Allah, Who created them, if it is Him ye wish to serve.
The sun and the moon follow courses (exactly) computed;


Sahih Bukhari[edit]

Narrated Abu Dhar: The Prophet asked me at sunset, "Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?" I replied, "Allah and His Apostle know better." He said, "It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west.
Narrated Abu Dharr: I entered the mosque while Allah's Apostle was sitting there. When the sun had set, the Prophet said, "O Abu Dharr! Do you know where this (sun) goes?" I said, "Allah and His Apostle know best." He said, "It goes and asks permission to prostrate, and it is allowed, and (one day) it, as if being ordered to return whence it came, then it will rise from the west." Then the Prophet recited, "That: ‘And the sun runs on its fixed course (for a term decreed),"
Narrated Abu Bakra: Allah's Apostle said: "The sun and the moon are two signs amongst the signs of Allah and they do not eclipse because of the death of someone but Allah frightens His devotees with them."
Narrated Abu Dhar: While the Prophet was on a journey, he said (regarding the performance of the Zuhr prayer), "Wait till it (i.e. the weather) gets cooler." He said the same again till the shade of the hillocks extended. Then he said, "Delay the (Zuhr) Prayer till it gets cooler, for the severity of heat is from the increase in heat of Hell (fire)."

Sahih Muslim[edit]

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) one day said: Do you know where the sun goes? They replied: Allah and His Apostle know best. He (the Holy Prophet) observed: Verily it (the sun) glides till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it falls prostrate and remains there until it is asked: Rise up and go to the place whence you came, and it goes back and continues emerging out from its rising place and then glides till it reaches its place of rest under the Throne and falls prostrate and remains in that state until it is asked: Rise up and return to the place whence you came, and it returns and emerges out from it rising place and the it glides (in such a normal way) that the people do not discern anything ( unusual in it) till it reaches its resting place under the Throne. Then it would be said to it: Rise up and emerge out from the place of your setting, and it will rise from the place of its setting. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said. Do you know when it would happen? It would happen at the time when faith will not benefit one who has not previously believed or has derived no good from the faith.

Abu Dawud[edit]

Narrated Al-Abbas ibn AbdulMuttalib: I was sitting in al-Batha with a company among whom the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) was sitting, when a cloud passed above them.

The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) looked at it and said: What do you call this? They said: Sahab.

He said: And muzn? They said: And muzn. He said: And anan? They said: And anan. AbuDawud said: I am not quite confident about the word anan. He asked: Do you know the distance between Heaven and Earth? They replied: We do not know. He then said: The distance between them is seventy-one, seventy-two, or seventy-three years. The heaven which is above it is at a similar distance (going on till he counted seven heavens). Above the seventh heaven there is a sea, the distance between whose surface and bottom is like that between one heaven and the next. Above that there are eight mountain goats the distance between whose hoofs and haunches is like the distance between one heaven and the next. Then Allah, the Blessed and the Exalted, is above that
Jabir b. ‘Abd Allah reported the Prophet as saying: I have been permitted to tell about one of Allah’s angels who bears the throne that the distance between the lobe of his ear and his shoulder is a journey of seven hundred years.

Al Tirmidhi[edit]

Al-Hasan narrated that: Abu Hurairah said: “Once when the Prophet of Allah was sitting with his Companions, a cloud came above them, so the Prophet of Allah said: ‘Do you know what this is?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘These are the clouds that are to drench the earth, which Allah [Blessed and Most High] dispatches to people who are not grateful to Him, nor supplicate to Him.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is a preserved canopy of the firmament whose surge is restrained.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know how much is between you and between it?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Between you and it [is the distance] of five-hundred year.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above that.’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, above that are two Heavens, between the two of them there is a distance of five-hundred years’ – until he enumerated seven Heavens – ‘What is between each of the two Heavens is what is between the heavens and the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is above that?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, above that is the Throne between it and the heavens is a distance [like] what is between two of the heavens.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under you?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Indeed it is the earth.’ Then he said: ‘Do you know what is under that?’ They said: ‘Allah and His Messenger know better.’ He said: ‘Verily, below it is another earth, between the two of which is a distance of five-hundred years.’ Until he enumerated seven earths: ‘Between every two earths is a distance of five-hundred years.’ Then he said: ‘By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! If you were to send [a man] down with a rope to the lowest earth, then he would descend upon Allah.’ Then he recited: He is Al-Awwal, Al-Akhir, Az-Zahir Al-Batin, and He has knowledge over all things.”
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger said, "Allah said, 'The son of Adam hurts me for he abuses Time though I am Time: in My Hands are all things, and I cause the revolution of day and night.'

Ibn Majah[edit]

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that: The Prophet said: "When Allah decrees a matter in heaven, the angels beat their wings in submission to his decree (with a sound) like a chain beating a rock. Then "When fear is banished from their hearts, they say: 'What is it that your Lord has said?' They say: 'The truth. And He is The Most High, The Most Great." He said: 'Then the eavesdroppers (from among the jinn) listen out for that, one above the other, so (one of them) hears the words and passes it on to the one beneath him. The Shihab (shooting star) may strike him before he can pass it on to the one beneath him and the latter can pass it on to the soothsayer or sorcerer, or it may not strike him until he has passed it on. And he ads one hundred lies to it, and only that word which was overheard from the heavens is true."

Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal[edit]

Yazeed bin Harun narrated to us, from al-Awam, from a slave of Abdullah ibn Amru, from Abdullah bin al-Aas who said: “The messenger of Allah saw the sun when it went down and said "(it went) into Allah’s hell fire. If it was not for the order intended for it (the sun) by Allah, it would have destroyed all that is on the earth.”


Ibn Kathir[edit]

It was said that Nun refers to a great whale that rides on the currents of the waters of the great ocean and on its back it carries the severn Earths, as was stated by Imam Abu Jafar Ibn Jarir. Narrated by Ibn Bashar, narrated by Yahya, narrated by Sufyan Al-Thuri, narrated by Sulayman Al-Amash, narrated by Abu Thubian, narrated by Ibn Abbas who related, "The first thing that Allah created was the pen and He said to it ‘Write’. The pen asked, ‘What shall I write?’ Allah said, ‘Write (the) fate (of everything).’ So the pen wrote everything that shall be from that moment until judgment day.

Then Allah created the "Nun" and He caused steam to rise out of which the heavens were created and the Earth was then laid flat on nun’s back. Then the Nun became nervous and (as a result) the earth began to sway, but (Allah) fastened (the earth) with mountains lest the earth should move ...

It was narrated by Ibn Jarir, narrated by Ibn Hamid, narrated by Ata’a, narrated by Abu Al-Dahee, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated, "The first thing my Lord created, may He be Exalted and Glorified, was the pen and He said to it, ‘Write.’ So the pen wrote all that will be until judgment day. Then Allah created the Nun (the whale) above the waters and he pressed the Earth into its back.

Al Tabarani narrated the same hadith above (from the prophet Muhammad) who narrated from Abu Habib Zaid Al-Mahdi Al Marouzi, narrated by Sa’id Ibn Yaqub Al-Talqani, narrated by Mu’amal Ibn Ismail, narrated by Hamad Ibn Zaid, narrated by Ata’a Ibn Al Sa’ib, narrated by Abu Al Dahee Muslim Ibn Subaih, narrated by Ibn Abbas who stated that the prophet – may peace and blessing be upon him and his family - said, "The first things Allah created were the pen and the whale and He said to the pen ‘Write.’ The pen asked, ‘What shall I write?’ Allah replied, ‘Everything that shall be until judgment day.’ Then He said ‘Nun. By the Pen and by what they write.’ So Nun is the whale and al-Qalam is the pen" ...

Ibn Abu Nujaih stated that Ibrahim Ibn Abu Bakir was informed by Mujahid who said, "It was said that Nun is the great whale who is underneath the seven Earths." Furthermore, Al-Baghawy – may Allah rest his soul - and a group of commentators stated that on the back of this whale there is a great rock whose thickness is greater than the width of the heavens and the earth and above this rock is a bull that has forty thousand horns. On the body of this bull are placed the seven earths and all that they contain, and Allah knows best.
Allah mentions His perfect ability and infinite authority, since it is He Who has raised the heavens without pillars by His permission and order. He, by His leave, order and power, has elevated the heavens high above the earth, distant and far away from reach. The heaven nearest to the present world encompasses the earth from all directions, and is also high above it from every direction. The distance between the first heaven and the earth is five hundred years from every direction, and its thickness is also five hundred years. The second heaven surrounds the first heaven from every direction, encompassing everything that the latter carries, with a thickness also of five hundred years and a distance between them of five hundred years. The same is also true about the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth and the seventh heavens. Allah said, (It is Allah who has created seven heavens and of the earth the like thereof.) ﴿65:12 ﴾ Allah said next, (..without any pillars that you can see.) meaning, `there are pillars, but you cannot see them,` according to Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, and several other scholars. Iyas bin Mu`awiyah said, "The heaven is like a dome over the earth," meaning, without pillars. Similar was reported from Qatadah, and this meaning is better for this part of the Ayah.
(And the sun runs on its fixed course for a term (appointed). That is the decree of the Almighty, the All-Knowing) There are two views over the meaning of the phrase (on its fixed course for a term (appointed). ) (The first view) is that it refers to its fixed course of location, which is beneath the Throne, beyond the earth in that direction. Wherever it goes, it is beneath the Throne, it and all of creation, because the Throne is the roof of creation and it is not a sphere as many astronomers claim. Rather it is a dome supported by legs or pillars, carried by the angels, and it is above the universe, above the heads of people. When the sun is at its zenith at noon, it is in its closest position to Throne, and when it runs in its fourth orbit at the opposite point to its zenith, at midnight, it is in its furthest position from the Throne. At that point it prostrates and asks for permission to rise, as mentioned in the Hadiths....

The second view is that this refers to when the sun's appointed time comes to an end, which will be on the Day of Resurrection, when its fixed course will be abolished, it will come to a halt and it will be rolled up. This world will come to an end, and that will be the end of its appointed time. This is the fixed course of its time. Qatadah said: (on its fixed course for a term (appointed).) means, "It has an appointed time and it will not go beyond that. It was also said that this means, it keeps moving in its summer orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that, then it moves to its winter orbit for a certain time, and it does not exceed that. This was narrated from `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him. Ibn Mas`ud and Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them, recited this Ayah as: (And the sun runs with no fixed course for a term,) meaning that it has no destination and it does not settle in one place, rather it keeps moving night and day, never slowing down or stopping, as in the Ayah: (And He has made the sun and the moon, both constantly pursuing their courses, to be of service to you) (14:33). which means, they will never slow down or stop, until the Day of Resurrection.
(And the moon, We have decreed for it stages,) meaning, `We have caused it to run in a different orbit, from which passing of the months can be deduced, just as night and day are known from the sun.' ...

So, He has given the sun its own light, and the moon its (reflection of) light, and has given each its own orbit. So the sun rises each day and sets at the end of the day, giving one kind of light all the time, but it moves, rising and setting at different points in the summer and winter, thus making the days and nights longer or shorter alternatively according to the season. Its authority is in the daytime, for it is the heavenly body that dominates the day. As for the moon, Allah has decreed that it should pass through different phases. At the beginning of the month, the moon appears small when it rises.

(It is not for the sun to overtake the moon,) Mujahid said, "Each of them has a limit which it does not transgress or fall short of. When the time of one comes, the other goes away, and when the time for one to prevail comes, the time of the other ceases. `Ikrimah said concerning the Ayah, (It is not for the sun to overtake the moon,) this means that each of them has its time when it prevails. So it is not appropriate for the sun to rise at night.

(nor does the night outstrip the day.) means, after night has passed, it is not right for another night to come until it has been day. The authority of the sun is during the day and the authority of the moon is at night. Ad-Dahhak said, "The night does not depart from here until the day comes from here -- and he pointed to the east." Mujahid said: (nor does the night outstrip the day.) "They seek one another rapidly." The meaning is that there is no gap between night and day; each of them follows the other with no interval, because they have been subjugated and are both constantly pursuing one another.

(They all float, each in an orbit.) means, night and day, the sun and the moon, all of them are floating, i.e., revolving, in their orbits in the heaven. This was the view of Ibn `Abbas, `Ikrimah, Ad-Dahhak, Al-Hasan, Qatadah and `Ata' Al-Khurasani. Ibn `Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, and others among the Salaf said, "In an orbit like the arc of a spinning wheel."

Many authentic and sound Hadiths have been reported through numerous routes of transmission from Allah's Messenger in this regard. Al-Bukhari recorded from Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said:

"After Allah completed creating the creation, the womb stood up and pulled at the lower garment of the most merciful. He said, 'Stop that!' It replied, 'My stand here is the stand of one seeking refuge in you from severance of ties.' Allah said, 'Would it not please you that I join whoever joins you and sever whoever severs you' It replied, ‘Yes indeed!’ He said, ‘You are granted that!’" Abu Hurayrah then added, "Read if you wish..."


Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr that Allah's Messenger said: "Verily, the womb is attached to the Throne. And connecting its ties does not mean dealing evenly (with the kinsfolk), but it rather means that if one's kinsfolk sever the ties, he connects them." This Hadith was also recorded by Al-Bukhari. Ahmad also recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said:

"The womb will be placed on the Day of Resurrection, curved like a spinning wheel, speaking with an eloquent fluent tongue, calling to severing whoever had severed it, and joining whoever had joined it." Imam Ahmad recorded from `Abdullah bin `Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, that Allah's Messenger said:

"The merciful ones will be granted mercy from the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those on earth -- the One above the heavens will then have mercy on you. And Ar-Rahim (the womb) is from Ar-Rahman, so whoever joins it, it joins him; and whoever severs it, it severs him." Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi both recorded this Hadith and it has been reported with continuous chains of transmission. At-Tirmidhi said, "Hasan Sahih." There are numerous other Hadiths in this regard.

Al Tabari[edit]

The other report, referring to a different concept, is what I was told by Muhammad b. Abi Mansur- Khalaf b. Wasil- Abu Nu'aym- Muqatil b. Hayyan- Ikrimah: One day when Ibn `Abbas was sitting (at home or in the mosque), a man came to him and said: Ibn `Abbas, I heard Ka'b, the Rabbi, tell a marvelous story about the sun and the moon. He continued. Ibn `Abbas who had been reclining sat up and asked what it was. The man said: He suggested that on the Day of Resurrection, the sun and the moon will be brought as if they were two hamstrung oxen, and flung into Hell. `Ikrimah continued. Ibn `Abbas became contorted with anger and exclaimed three times: Ka'b is lying! Ka'b is lying! Ka'b is lying! This is something Jewish he wants to inject into Islam. God is too majestic and noble to mete out punishment where there is obedience to Him. Have you not heard God's word: "And He subjected to you the sun and the moon, being constant" — referring to their constant obedience. How would He punish two servants that are praised for constant obedience? May God curse that rabbi and his rabbinate! How insolent is he toward God and what a tremendous fabrication has he told about those two servants that are obedient to God! He continued. Then he said several times: We return to God. He took a little piece of wood from the ground and started to hit the ground with it. He did that for some time, then lifting his head he threw away the little piece of wood and said: You want me to tell you what I heard the Messenger of God say about the sun and the moon and the beginning of their creation and how things went with them? We said: We would, indeed, May God show mercy unto you. He said: When the Messenger of God was asked about that, he replied: When God was done with His creation and only Adam remained to be created, He created two suns from the light of His Throne. His foreknowledge told Him that He would leave here one sun, so He created it as (large as) this world is from east to west. His foreknowledge also told Him that He would efface it and change it to a moon; so the moon is smaller in size than the sun. But both are seen as small because of the sun's altitude and remoteness from the earth.

He continued: If God had left the two suns as He created them in the beginning, night would not have been distinguishable from day. A hired man then would not know until when he should labor and when he should receive his wages. A person fasting would not know until when he must fast. A woman would not know how to reckon the period of her impurity. The Muslims would not know the time of the pilgrimage. Debtors would not know when their debts become due. People in general would not know when to work for a livelihood and when to stop for resting their bodies. The Lord was too concerned with His servants and too merciful to them (to do such a thing). He thus sent Gabriel to drag his wing three times over the face of the moon, which at the time was a sun. He effaced its luminosity and left the light in it. This is (meant by) God's word: "And We have made the night and the day two signs. We have blotted out the sign of the night, and We have made the sign of the day something to see by." He continued. The blackness you can see as lines on the moon is a trace of the blotting. God then created for the sun a chariot with 360 handholds from the luminosity of the light of the Throne and entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting the lower heaven with the sun and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds. He entrusted 360 of the angels inhabiting (the lower?) heaven with the moon and its chariot, each of them gripping one of those handholds.

Then he said: For the sun and the moon, He created easts and wests (positions to rise and set) on the two sides of the earth and the two rims of heaven, 180 springs in the west of black clay – This is (meant by) God's word: "He found it setting in a muddy spring," meaning by "muddy (hami'ah)" black clay - and 180 springs in the east likewise of black clay, bubbling and boiling like a pot when it boiled furiously. He continued. Every day and night, the sun has a new place where it rises and a new place where it sets. The interval between them from beginning to end is longest for the day in summer and shortest in winter. This is (meant by) God's word: "The Lord of the two easts and the Lord of the two wests," meaning the last (position) of the sun here and the last there. He omitted the positions in the east and the west (for the rising and setting of the sun) in between them. Then He referred to east and west in the plural, saying; "(By) the Lord of the easts and wests." He mentioned the number of all those springs (as above).

He continued. God created an ocean three farsakhs (18 kilometers) removed from heaven. Waves contained, it stands in the air by the command of God. No drop of it is spilled. All the oceans are motionless, but that ocean flows at the rate of the speed of an arrow. It is set free to move in the air evenly, as if it were a rope stretched out in the area between east and west. The sun, the moon, and the retrograde stars run in its deep swell. this is (meant by) God's word: "Each swims in a sphere." "The sphere" is the circulation of the chariot in the deep swell of that ocean. By Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand! If the sun were to emerge from that ocean, it would burn everything on earth, including even rocks and stones, and if the moon were to emerge from it, it would afflict (by its heat) the inhabitants of the earth to such and extent that they would worship gods other than God. The exception would be those of God's friends whom He would want to keep free from sin.

Ibn `Abbas said that `Ali b. Abi Talib said to the Messenger of God: You are like my father and my mother! You have mentioned the course of the retrograde stars (al-khunnas) by which God swears in the Qur'an, together with the sun and the moon, and the rest. Now, what are al-khunnas? The Prophet replied: `Ali, they are five stars: Jupiter (al-birjis), Saturn (zuhal), Mercury (`utarid), Mars (bahram), and Venus (al-zuhrah). These five stars rise and run like the sun and the moon and race with them together. All the other stars are suspended from heaven as lamps are from mosques, and circulate together with heaven praising and sanctifying God with prayer. The Prophet then said: If you wish to have this made clear, look to the circulation of the sphere alternately here and there. It is the circulation of heaven and the circulation of all the stars together with it except those five. Their circulation today is what you see, and that is their prayer. Their circulation to the Day of Resurrection is as quick as the circulation of a mill because of the dangers and tremors of the Day of resurrection. This is (meant by) God's word: "On a day when the heaven sways to and fro and the mountains move. Woe on that day unto those who declare false (the Prophet's divine message)."

He continued. When the sun rises, it rises upon its chariot from one of those springs accompanied by 360 angels with outspread wings. They draw it along the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of night and the hours of day, be it night or day. When God wishes to test the sun and the moon, showing His servants a sign and thereby asking them to stop disobeying Him and to start to obey, the sun tumbles from the chariot and falls into the deep of that ocean, which is the sphere. When God wants to increase the significance of the sign and frighten His servants severely, all of the sun falls, and nothing of it remains upon the chariot. That is a total eclipse of the sun, when the day darkens and the stars come out. When God wants to make a partial sign, half or a third or two-thirds of it fall into the water, while the rest remains upon the chariot, this being a partial eclipse. It is a misfortune for the sun or for the moon. It frightens His servants and constitutes a request from the Lord (for them to repent). However this may be, the angels entrusted with the chariot of the sun divide into two groups, one that goes to the sun and pulls it toward the chariot, and another that goes to the chariot and pulls it toward the sun, while at the same time they keep it steady in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer, according to the extent of the hours of day or the hours of night, be it night or day, summer or winter, autumn or spring between summer and winter, lest the length of night and day be increased in any way. God has given them knowledge of that by inspiration and also the power for it. The gradual emergence of the sun or the moon from the deep of that ocean covering them which you observe after an eclipse (is accomplished by) all the angels together who, after having brought out all of it, carry it (back) and put it upon the chariot. They praise God that He gave them the power to do that. They grip the handholds of the chariot and draw it in the sphere, praising and sanctifying God with prayer. Finally, they bring the sun to the west. Having done so; they put it into the spring, and the sun falls from the horizon of the sphere into the spring.

Then the Prophet said, expressing wonder at God’s creation: How wonderful is the divine power with respect to something than which nothing more wonderful has ever been created!… By Him Who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand! Were those people not so many and so noisy, all the inhabitants of this world would hear the loud crash made by the sun falling when it rises and when it sets… Whenever the sun sets, it is raised from heaven to heaven by the angels’ fast flight, until it is brought to the highest, seventh heaven, and eventually is underneath the Throne. It falls down in prostration, and the angels entrusted with it prostrate themselves together with it. Then it is brought down to heaven. When it reaches this heaven, dawn breaks. When it comes down from one of those springs, morning becomes luminous. And when it reaches this face of heaven, the day becomes luminous.

Umar b. al-Khattab said at this point): I and my family are you ransom, O Messenger of God, but may I ask what is the Gate of repentance? The Prophet said 'Umar, God created a gate for repentance behind the west with two doorleaves of gold encrusted with pearls and jewels, set apart a distance requiring a speeding rider forty years to traverse. That gate has been open since God created His creation (and will stay open) to the morning of that night when the sun and the moon rise from (their positions in) the west. The repentance of any human being that repents from Adam to the morning of that night, enters that gate and is then lifted up by God.'

Someone might say: If it is as you have described, namely, that God created the earth before the heaven, then what is the meaning of the statement of Ibn ‘Abbas told all of you by Wasil b. ‘Abd al-A‘la al-Asadi- Muhammad b. Fudayl- al-A‘mash- Abu Zabyan- Ibn ‘Abbas: The first thing God created is the Pen. God then said to it: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write, my lord! God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued: And the Pen proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and gong to be to the Coming of the Hour. God then lifted up the water vapor and split the heavens off from it. Then God created the fish (nun), and the earth was spread out upon its back. The fish became agitated, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, for they indeed proudly (tower) over the earth.

I was told about the same by Wasil - Waki’ - al-A‘mash - Abu Zabyan - Ibn ‘Abbas.

According to Ibn al-Muthanna - Ibn Abi ‘Adi - Shu‘bah - Sulayman (al-A‘mash?) - Abu Zabyan - Ibn ‘Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. It proceeded to (write) whatever is going to be. (God) then lifted up the water vapor, and the heavens were created from it. Then He created the fish, and the earth was spread out on its back. The fish moved, with the result that the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, for the mountains indeed proudly (tower) over the earth. So he said, and he recited: "Nun. By the Pen and what they write."

I was told the same by Tamim b. al-Muntasir - Ishaq (b. Yusuf) - Sharik (b. ‘Abdallah al-Nakha‘i) - al-A‘mash - Abu Zabyan or Mujahid - Ibn ‘Abbas, with the exception, however, that he said: And the heavens were split off from it (instead of: were created).

According to Ibn Bashshar - Yahya - Sufyan - Sulayman (al-A‘mash?) - Abu Zabyan - Ibn ‘Abbas: The first (thing) created by God is the Pen. God said: Write!, whereupon the Pen asked: What shall I write? God replied: Write what is predestined! He continued. And (the Pen) proceeded to (write) whatever is predestined and going to be from that day on to the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. He lifted up the water vapor, and heaven was split off from it, and the earth was spread out upon the back of the fish. The fish became agitated, and as a result, the earth was shaken up. It was steadied by means of the mountains, he continued, for they proudly (tower) over the earth.

According to Ibn Humayd - Jarir (b. ‘Abd al-Hamid) - ‘Ata’ b. al-Sa’ib - Abu al-Duha Muslim b. Subayh - Ibn ‘Abbas: The first thing created by God is the Pen. God said to it: Write!, and it wrote whatever is going to be until the Coming of the Hour. Then God created the fish. Then he heaped up the earth upon it.

This reportedly is a sound tradition as transmitted on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas and on the authority of others in the sense commented upon and explained and does not contradict anything transmitted by us from him on this subject.

Should someone ask: What comment on his authority and that of others proves the soundness of what you have transmitted to us in this sense on his authority? He should be referred to what I have been told by Musa b. Harun al-Hamdani - ‘Abdallah b. Mas‘ud and some (other) companions of the Messenger of God (commenting on): "He is the One Who created for you all that is on earth. Then He stretched out straight toward the heaven and fashioned it into seven heavens." God’s throne was upon the water. He had not created anything except what He created before the water. When He wanted to create the creation, He brought forth smoke from the water. The smoke rose above the water and hovered loftily over it. He therefore called it "heaven." Then He dried out the water, and thus made it one earth. He split it and made it into seven earths on Sunday and Monday. He created the earth upon a (big) fish (hut), that being the fish (nun) mentioned by God in the Qur'an: "Nun. By the Pen." The fish was in the water. The water was upon the back of a (small) rock. The rock was upon the back of an angel. The angel was upon a (big) rock. The big rock - the one mentioned by Luqman - was in the wind, neither in heaven nor on the earth. The fish moved and became agitated. As a result, the earth quacked, whereupon He firmly, anchored the mountains on it, and it was stable. This is stated in God’s word that He made for the earth "firmly anchored (mountains), lest it should shake you up."

Ibn Abbas[edit]

And from his narration on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that he said regarding the interpretation of Allah's saying (Nun): '(Nun) He says: Allah swears by the Nun, which is the whale that carries the earths on its back while in Water, and beneath which is the Bull and under the Bull is the Rock and under the Rock is the Dust and none knows what is under the Dust save Allah. The name of the whale is Liwash, and it is said its name is Lutiaya'; the name of the bull is Bahamut, and some say its name is Talhut or Liyona. The whale is in a sea called 'Adwad, and it is like a small bull in a huge sea. The sea is in a hollowed rock whereby there is 4,000 cracks, and from each crack water springs out to the earth. It is also said that Nun is one of the names of the Lord; it stands for the letter Nun in Allah's name al-Rahman (the Beneficent); and it is also said that a Nun is an inkwell. (By the pen) Allah swore by the pen. This pen is made of light and its height is equal to the distance between Heaven and earth. It is with this pen that the Wise Remembrance, i.e. the Guarded Tablet, was written. It is also said that the pen is one of the angels by whom Allah has sworn, (and that which they write (therewith)) and Allah also swore by what the angels write down of the works of the children of Adam...

Al Qurtubi[edit]

Narrated by Al-Walid Ibn Muslim, narrated by Malik Ibn Ans, narrated by Sumay son of Abu Bakir, narrated by Abu Salih Al-Samaan, narrated by Abu Hurayrah who related that he heard the prophet - peace be upon him – say, "The first thing Allah created was the pen, then He created the ‘Nun’ which is an inkwell. This is what Allah stated (in sura 68:1) ‘Nun and the Pen.’ And He said to it, ‘Write’. So the pen wrote all that will be until judgment day. Then Allah created the Nun (the whale) above the waters and he pressed the earth into its back. He (Allah) then said to the pen ‘Write.’ The pen asked ‘What shall I write?’ Allah replied, ‘Write what was and what will be until judgment day; whether deed, reward, consequence and punishment- until judgment day.’ Thus the pen wrote what shall be until judgment day. Allah then placed a seal over the pen and it will not talk until judgment day. Then Allah created the mind and said, ‘By my Glory, I will establish you in those whom you love and I will take you away from those whom you despise.’"

Mujahid related that ‘Nun’ is the whale that is underneath the seventh earth. He stated that the ‘Pen’ is what was used to write ‘Al-Thikir’ (The Remembrance - Quran). Likewise, it was also narrated by Mukatil, Murrah Al-Hamdani, Ata’ Al-Kharasani, Al Suddi and Al-Kalbi who all said, "Nun is the whale upon which all the earths are placed."

Narrated by Abu Thabyan, narrated by Ibn Abbas who said, "The first thing that Allah created was the Pen which wrote all that shall be. Then water vapor began to rise, out of which the heavens were created. Then (Allah) created Nun (the whale) and flattened the earth on its back. When the earth began to lean, it was reinforced with mountains, which are on its surface." Then Ibn Abbas read the verse (Sura 68:1) ‘Nun and the Pen.’

Al-Kalbi and Mukatil stated that the name (of the whale) is ‘Al-Bahmout.’ Al-Rajis said, "Why do I see you all silent and the Lord my God created Al-Bahmout?"

Abu Yakthan and Al-Waqidi stated that the name (of the whale) is ‘Leotha’; Whereas Kab stated that its name is ‘Lo-tho-tha’ or ‘Bil-Ha-motha.’ Kab said, "Satan crept up to the whale, on whom the seven earths are placed, and whispered into its heart saying, ‘Do you realize what is on your back, Oh Lo-tho-tha of beasts and plants and humans and others? If you are annoyed with them, you can throw them all off your back.’ So Lo-tho-tha intended to do what was suggested (by Satan) but Allah sent the whale a reptile that crawled through into its blowhole and reached its brain. The whale then cried to Allah –may He be glorified and honored – and He gave permission for the reptile to exit (the whale)." Kab continued and said, "By Allah, the whale stares at the reptile and the reptile stares at the whale, and if the whale intends to do (what Satan suggested) the reptile would return to the place it was before."
Tafsir Al Qurtubi. Meaning of Sura 68 Aya 1.

Al Kisai[edit]

Kaab al-Ahbar said: When God wished to create the dry land, He commanded the wind to churn up the waters. When they had become turbulent and foamy, waves swelled and gave off vapor. Then God commanded the foam to solidify, and it became dry. In two days he created the dry land on the face of the waters, as He hath said: Say, do ye indeed disbelieve in him who created the earth in two days? (41:9). Then He commanded these waves to be still, and they formed the mountains, which He used as pegs to hold down the earth, as He hath said: And we placed stable mountains on the earth lest it should move with them (21:31). Were it not for the mountains, the earth would not have been stable enough for its inhabitants. The veins of these mountains are connected with the veins of Mount Qaf, which is the range that surrounds the earth.

Then God created the seven seas. The first is called Baytush and surrounds the earth from behind Mount Qaf. Behind it is a sea called Asamm, behind which is a sea called Qaynas, behind which is a sea called Sakin, behind which is a sea called Mughallib, behind which is a sea called Muannis, behind which is a sea called Baki, which is the last. These are the seven seas, and each of them surrounds the sea before it. The rest of the seas in which are creatures whose number only God knows, are like gulfs to these seven. God created sustenance for all these creatures on the fourth day, as He hath said: And he provided therein the food of the creatures designed to be the inhabitants thereof, in four days; equally, for those who ask (41:10).

There are seven earths. The first is called Ramaka, beneath which is the Barren Wind, which can be bridled by no fewer than seventy thousand angels. With this wind God destroyed the people of Ad. The inhabitants of Ramaka are a nation called Muwashshim, upon whom is everlasting torment and divine retribution. The second earth is called Khalada, wherein are the implements of torture for the inhabitants of Hell. There dwells a nation called Tamis, whose food is their own flesh and whose drink is their own blood. The third earth is called Arqa, wherein dwell mulelike eagles with spearlike tails. On each tail are three hundred and sixty poisonous quills. Were even one quill placed on the face of the earth, the entire universe would pass away. The inhabitants thereof are a nation called Qays, who eat dirt and drink mothers' milk. The fourth earth is called Haraba, wherein dwell the snakes of Hell, which are as large as mountains. Each snake has fangs like tall palm trees, and if they were to strike the hugest mountain with their fangs it would be leveled to the ground. The inhabitants of this earth are a nation called Jilla, and they have no eyes, hands or feet but have wings like bats and die only of old age. The fifth earth is called Maltham, wherein stones of sulphur hang around the necks of infidels. When the fire is kindled the fuel is placed on their breasts, and the flames leap up onto their faces, as He hath said: The fire whose fuel is men and stones (2:24), and Fire shall cover their faces (14:50). The inhabitants are a nation called Hajla, who are numerous and who eat each other. The sixth earth is called Sijjin. Here are the registers of the people of Hell, and their works are vile, as He hath said: Verily the register of the actions of the wicked is surely Sijjin (83:7). Herein dwells a nation called Qatat, who are shaped like birds and worship God truly. The seventh earth is called Ajiba and is the habitation of Iblis. There dwells a nation called Khasum, who are black and short, with claws like lions. It is they who will be given dominion over Gog and Magog, who will be destroyed by them.

And the earth was tossed about with its inhabitants like a ship, so God sent down an angel of extreme magnitude and strength and ordered him to slip beneath the earth and bear it up on his shoulders. He stretched forth one of his hands to the East and the other to the West and took hold of the earth from end to end. However, there was no foothold for him, so God created from an emerald a square rock, in the middle of which were seven thousand holes. In each hole there was a sea, description of which is known only to God. And He commanded the rock to settle beneath the angel’s feet. The rock, whoever, had no support, so God created a great bull with forty thousand heads, eyes, ears, nostrils, mouths, tongues and legs and commanded it to bear the rock on its back and on its horns. The name of the bull is al-Rayyan. As the bull had no place to rest its feet, God created a huge fish, upon which no one may gaze because it is so enormous and had so many eyes. It is even said that if all the seas were placed in one of its gills, they would be like a mustard seed in the desert. This fish God commanded to be a foothold for the bull, and it was done. The name of this fish is Behemoth. Then He made its resting place the waters, beneath which is the air, and beneath the air is the Darkness, which is for all the earths. There, beneath the Darkness, the knowledge of created things ends.
Al-Kisa’i, Qisas Al-Anbiya (Tales of the Prophets), translated by Wheeler M. Thackston Jr. [Great Books of the Islamic World, Inc., Distributed by Kazi Publications; Chicago, IL 1997], pp. 8-10;

Muhammad Husayn Haykal[edit]

"He led a fantastical steed, Boraq ('Lightning'), with a human head and two eagles' wings; it approached Mahomet, allowed him to mount and was off like an arrow over the mountains of Mecca and the sands of the desert toward the North . . . The Angel accompanied them on this prodigious flight. On the summit of Mt. Sinai, where God had spoken to Moses, Gabriel stopped Mahomet for prayer, and again at Bethlehem where Jesus was born, before resuming their course in the air. Mysterious voices attempted to detain the Prophet, who was so wrapped up in his mission that he felt God alone had the right to stop his steed. When they reached Jerusalem Mahomet tethered Boraq and prayed on the ruins of the Temple of Solomon with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. Seeing an endless ladder appear upon Jacob's rock, the Prophet was enabled to mount rapidly to the heavens. "The first heaven was of pure silver and the stars suspended from its vault by chains of gold; in each one an angel lay awake to prevent the demons from climbing into the holy dwelling places and the spirits from listening indiscreetly to celestial secrets.
Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. The Life of Muhammad. p. 154, 2008. 
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See Also[edit]

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